Finance is a critical input to a country’s education system, yet partner country education systems are strained under the pressure of limited financial resources, demographic changes, and growing enrollments. The USAID/Africa Bureau has identified a significant knowledge gap within its education officers, as well as with DC-based education staff, whose role is to support mission education staff in the area of education programming.

To address this gap, the USAID/Africa Bureau requested support from Integra under the USAID Learning, Evaluation and Analysis Project (LEAP III) to tailor existing and develop new training sessions and materials for USAID’s education staff. Our team developed and delivered two courses and a workshop with the primary goal of strengthening the knowledge of public and private financing of education systems and interventions among USAID’s education staff.

  • Public Institutions & Education Finance Training
  • Navigating Private Finance in Education Training
  • Institutional Perspectives on the Education Finance Landscape Workshop


The trainings and workshop were designed and developed and then piloted, resulting in recommendations for future offerings of this course. Feedback was collected through end-of-course evaluation forms and informal interviews of USAID trainees by Integra throughout the week. The robust feedback is expected to guide modifications to the content before being rolled out to field staff.

Tested knowledge – A pre-test and post-test were administered. The post-test contained the same questions as the pre-test (as well as a few supplemental questions) for comparison. The assessment questions were chosen to reflect general knowledge of education finance and public financial management and were not directly shared with those leading the lectures or chosen with the detailed content of the lectures in mind.

Self-reported knowledge – At the beginning of the course, participants filled out a ‘self-reported knowledge’ scale, ranking their knowledge of 7 topics from 0 (“completely uninformed”) to 10 (“confident expert”).


The pilot of the Funding the Future Series was a success in many respects. Subject matter experts came together, participants were provided with a deep overview of a range of topics in education finance, and Integra the opportunity to engage with participants to better align future trainings to their needs and preferences.

  • Post-test scores increased by 16.53 percentage points from 47.88 percent to 64.41 percent. Only two participants performed worse on the post-test, while all others increased their scores with 40 percent increasing their scores by over 20 percentage points.
  • Self-reported knowledge increased significantly for all topics except one. This is unsurprising as knowledge of this one topic was high to begin with, relative to other topics. The greatest improvement was on self-reported knowledge of USAID’s Financing Self-Reliance (FSR) framework.

Key highlights from the end-of-course evaluations are presented below:

Topics Participants found Most Useful:

  • Public Accountability
  • Overview of Education Finance and Policy
  • Domestic Resource Mobilization
  • Innovative Finance
  • Application: Non-state Schools
  • Private Finance in Education
  • Blended Finance & Education
  • Education Finance in Africa

Topics Participants found Least Useful:

  • Macro-Fiscal Frameworks 
  • Market Failure & Rationale for Public Finance
  • Institutional Considerations
  • Impact Analysis & Measurement
  • Funds, Facilities, & Platforms
  • Sustainable Financing for Universal Primary Education
  • Improving the Quality of Education for All

Take Aways Participants Expect to Use at Work:

  • New trends and information on blended finance.
  • Grants as flexible mechanisms.
  • Focus on impact as opposed to measurement.
  • Increased awareness of PSE.
  • Recommendations about using Fixed Amount Awards.
  • Knowledge of how budgeting works.
  • Information on revenue generation and earmarks.
  • Financing self-reliance.
  • Tradeoffs between centralization and decentralization.
  • Political Economy Analysis.
  • The Catalyze Mechanism.
  • Stakeholder Mapping.
  • Audit Resources.
  • Knowledge of how innovative financing models work.
  • Mechanisms available at USAID.
  • USAID PSE Policy.
  • Nomenclature related to private finance.

Opportunities for Improvement

  • More specific examples of how education finance work can be done.
  • How to decide what procurement options are the best fit.
  • More examples/case studies.
  • Providing an overarching theme/narrative that carries through the course.
  • Limiting the number of topics to enable a ‘deeper dive’ on select topics.
  • Include better integration of how topics apply to the USAID context (education policy, program cycle, journey to self-reliance).
  • More real-world examples in some lectures, and shifting the time allotted across various topics (e.g. less time on market failure, more time on intergovernmental fiscal relations).
  • Connect lectures to a common theme or framework that is referenced throughout, suggesting the need for greater coordination across lecturers.
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